I’m usually quite the fan of Labor Day weekend.
It unofficially begins fall (my favorite season), kicks off football season and gives me a perfect excuse to find a good travel deal and go shopping.
But this year, the actual cause of the holiday weekend is just bumming me out.
In an economy where unemployment rates are continually sliding, laid off workers try on average for a year before they find work again (often with less pay and worse benefits), and the country’s middle class income share is shrinking, it’s hard to find cause to celebrate the American worker.
You’d at least think those of us with jobs feel grateful and lucky to have them. But apparently not.
A survey of 26,000 Americans coming from Yahoo Finance and Parade magazine finds sad, though not so surprising news: We’re just not happy at work. Roughly 60 percent of Americans would choose a different career.
Why? Because a lot of us feel like our jobs aren’t getting us anywhere, the survey notes. It’s the common treadmill problem—we feel like we’re working hard and moving on, but we’re actually just staying where we were all along.
(And isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?)
Most surveyed employees say playing the right office politics is the only way to get ahead in the workplace; not hard work or initiative or creativity—or any other reason that would presumably constitute a justifiable reason for getting ahead.
Still, that doesn’t mean workers aren’t working hard despite this. Workers are so on edge about keeping their job in a squeezed economy and job market that they’re working longer and harder than ever. They’re taking any job they can get and corporations are squeezing more money out of each worker.
The survey even notes that we’re so worried about our financial state, too, that most of us would pick a measly 5 percent increase in salary over a whopping two-week increase in vacation time.
Most workers barely even have a three-month savings cushion, most expect to work past the traditional retirement age and most can’t afford our health care.
Talk about stress. No wonder three-quarters of workers say they’re stressed out at work.
And as noted, the extra work employees are putting in and extra stress we’re enduring isn’t going to ensure that we’ll get a promotion or a raise, let again ensure that we’ll keep our job.
The only place it ensures we’re headed is right into an EAP.
We’re losing pay, benefits and faith as a result. And these are the lucky ones who have a job. Doesn’t seem like much cause for celebration to me.